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Berlin Day 4

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Hey guys, long time no post. Sorry for that– things have been busy for me and I haven’t been good about doing my blog. It’s fun after I can make myself sit down and start writing. After all this time, it’s amazing I can still remember so much. I think the memories are growing even fonder in my mind.

Day four in Berlin started with a big to-do list of things I had to finish before leaving the city. Mainly, I wanted to do a bunch of souvenir shopping and I also had postcards from the last three or four cities to mail. It was time to finally get those suckers sent because I’d already put Austrian stamps on most of them but couldn’t find a damn mailbox near the train station in Vienna and forgot about them in Innsbruck. Funny how little stuff like that can get you– and these stamps weren’t cheap either.

So I checked out of the lovely Industriepalast hostel at 9:30 and had a quick meal. They let me leave bags there for free, so I dropped them off and went to go on my errands. It was hard deciding whether to go north up to the area around the sticker museum where I had seen some other clothing shops or down south, where I knew a “street apparel” store was. Ended up deciding to go north first because the street apparel store was open later on this Saturday. Anyway, the air was cool and the sun was bright as I walked up there. I went by the shops but they were all opening at 11 so I killed some time at a local sidewalk cafe sipping on some coffee and reading my guidebook.

When 11 rolled around, I went up to this one place that had tons of shirts in a full rainbow of colors. I was looking for some shirts done by Berlin artists. Found a few good looking ones there but didn’t buy them then- I wanted to shop around a bit first. Next stop was the sticker museum to check out a few of the shirts I saw they had before. The owner was there this time and so I talked to him briefly. Really nice guy and he was even cool with me asking what other shops I should visit to buy art shirts. I bought a shirt there and kept chatting with him about his stickers and the art scene in Berlin. I asked him if there was any way I could get some Berlin street art magazines back in the states and he said that most of them in Berlin are locally produced “fanzines” that never make it out of the area. But he took my email address and said he’d get in touch when some came in and ship them over to me. That was so cool of him to offer! I’m actually still waiting on that to pull through but he did email me months later to ask if I was still interested. Emailed back and now I’m crossing my fingers on that one!

So I got a picture with him and thanked him a bunch and then left the store. He had marked a couple nearby places on the map for me to visit, so I headed up that way. One of those places was a really cool art gallery/merch shop and I loved the prints the guy had on the wall. There was some really cool and tempting pieces to buy but I didn’t think I could get it home safely and was also running low in the money department. Next time…

Since I didn’t see anything really good at those places, I went back to the first place and bought one of the shirts I’d found earlier. Fit great and has a really cool design! Time was running a little short but I still had errands to do. I found a place selling stamps and bought another $20 in postage to finally get those postcards sent. Had to sit down and write about 12 more for the places I’d bought postcards but never finished them. Got the whole stack written and posted and sent– relief!

Timing was almost perfect and I started heading back to the hostel to pick up my stuff. I wished I had time to go to a few more places, but things had just taken too long. But as I was walking back, another shop caught my eye with its clever title– Yack Fou. I still had to get a souvenir for a friend, so I popped in there to quickly buy something. Found a great shirt but they only had a medium and I needed small. Asked the clerk for a small but she said she’d get back to me after finishing with this customer. Anxiety levels started rising as I realized that I was starting to run behind schedule. Eventually she came out to me and said ok, I’ll get a medium printed right now. “printed?” I didn’t realize this shop made their shirts! So now it was too late to back out as she was warming up the transfer machine. Waited nervously as she put the design on the shirt, clamped down on it with the hot metal plates and let it melt into the fabric. Finally, the thing came hot out of the machine and into a bag. I paid and headed out the door.

It was getting so late that I had to start jogging. What an idiot, I thought to myself as I jogged down the sidewalk with my bags of shirts. Oh well, I’d never see these people again. Made it back to the hostel and picked up my gear and booked it back out the door. No time to lose now and I was in a quick jog as this point. Just have to make it to the s-bahn. Pant pant, lungs burning. Rushed to the station, down the stairs and out to the platform. Less than a minute later and the train pulled into the station and I got on. Phew, that was quick. But I still wasn’t out of the woods yet. My train to Amsterdam left in like 20 minutes.

I mentally flogged myself for always repeating this behavior. Why do I always cut things so close?! Too much stress for a person to put them selves under. Rolled into the main train station with like 7 minutes to spare and I ran down to the main level to see the departures board and check the platform number. Ok, got it. Ran back up a couple flights of stairs with my big bag on and found the platform. Had about 2 minutes to spare as I got on and took a big sigh of relief. Wow, that was way too close! But I couldn’t help grinning a little bit.

The train ride was long and I don’t remember much happening. There was a bunch of kids my age who came on with a case of beer bottles and cause a bit of a ruckus with their train party but thankfully they left after about an hour. Probably spent most of that time blogging on my phone. I didn’t know how to get to my Amsterdam hostel but I figured I could easily get to a nearby internet cafe to look it up. That’s one thing you can rely on in any large city.

The train actually didn’t go all the way to Amsterdam. Forgot what city I had to transfer in but it was close to Amsterdam and I found an internet cafe there. Looked up my new hostel and got the directions. This planning thing was finally getting a little easier. Hopped on the train and within an hour or so I was at my new place– the Stayokay Amsterdam Zeeburg. It had clean feel, good rooms and wifi (albeit expensive) in the lobby. Not too bad. It was 10:15 and I was getting pretty hungry. Asked the clerk for a recommendation and he pointed me towards a nearby main street with a couple options.

I ended up at this Italian place– weird, I know. But they were open and so I walked in. The place was empty, save for a few employees and their friends hanging out near the bar. They were prompt and pleasant with their service. Spoke in English to me– thankfully. I heard the Dutch know many languages, especially English. Good. Had a Heineken beer, which surprisingly tasted so much better than any Heineken I’d had in the states. The beer is made right there in Amsterdam, so it was super fresh and didn’t have any extra stuff added to make it last the trip to the states. Mmm, delicious!

Anyway, I had some salad and pasta– typical Italian meal. From what I remember, it was good. When they brought my check, it came in a little wooden chest. Inside, was the slip of paper and two little mints. How cute! I took a picture and am proud to share it with you all. Fanciest presentation of a bill I’d ever gotten. After that meal, I felt pretty tired and so I headed back home. Oops, forgot to say what the buildings were like. They were all rectangular brick buildings with brown roofs and plain exteriors. But they had the look of security and I liked that. The neighborhood was quiet and clean, felt like a typical suburb. Weather was overcast and cool but not raining. Ok,that ends the day.

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November 6th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

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